City seeks input on future of Blackfriars Bridge
Closed for a year and a half, the fate of Blackfriars Bridge is in the hands of the public.
Next week, Londoners will be asked what should be done with the historic 139-year-old bridge - with options ranging from restoration to removal.
Blackfriars is only open to pedestrians and cyclists currently.
A factor in deciding its future include what modes of transportation, if any, will be permitted on it in the future.
The discovery of heavily corroded supports and missing rivets forced its sudden closure last year. Now, many who walk the scaffold covered span, are eager for city hall to end the state of limbo.
“Budgets have to be weighed, but I think everyone needs to understand that it costs money to keep the infrastructure up and to have a city that's functional,” says Trev McAninch.
City hall is conducting an environmental assessment to determine a course of action.
The city's director of roads and transportation is seeking public input next week on the desired function of the bridge in the future.
“What is the long-term function of this bridge? Does it need to carry vehicles? Does it need to carry pedestrians, cyclists or does it need to be there at all?” says Edward Soldo, the city’s roads and transportations director.
It may be an old bridge across a relatively quiet part of the river, but before it was closed to traffic in the summer of 2013, Blackfriars played an important role connecting the west end to the downtown.
It carried about 5,000 vehicles and countless pedestrians every day.
Previous engineering reports estimate the requirements to transform Blackfriars into a pedestrian bridge are about the same as the costs to open it up to light traffic.
Public input regarding the desired function of the bridge will then shape the next stage of the environmental assessment - designing possible solutions and estimating costs.
Londoners will also have a second chance to weigh in before council makes a final decision, which means restoration, repair, or removal is still years away.
“A rehab would likely take most of a year so what we are looking at is at least 2016 or early 2017 (as) the earliest we could see any changes to the bridge,” Soldo says.
The public can have a say on the bridge’s future Wednesday between 4:30 and 7:30 p.m. at the central branch of the London Public Library.